A MUM has been sentenced after her dangerously out of control dog attacked and killed a three-year-old boy.

Jade Dunne owned American Bulldog, Ruby, which bit Dexter Neal at her home in August last year.

The 29-year-old, formerly of Parker Way, in Halstead but now of St Mary’s Road, Kelvedon, appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court this morning where she was given a suspended sentence of 12 months.

The white American Bulldog which bit Dexter on the back of the neck was usually kept away from him because he was scared of it.

Dexter was airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge but went into cardiac arrest several times during the flight and later died from his injuries despite the best efforts of medical staff.

Halstead Gazette:

Pictured: Jade Dunne

Dunne was also disqualified from owning a dog for 10 years and ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Karim Khalil said: "Nothing I do or say hereafter can diminish the pain that must be felt by the Neal family for the loss of little Dexter aged just three years old."

Dunne appeared tearful throughout the hearing, which was attended by members of Dexter's wider family but not by his parents Pamela and Andrew.

The dog was seized by officers and destroyed after the attack, and the court made a formal order for destruction for the record.

Kate Davey, prosecuting, said Dexter's family lived around the corner from the defendant in adjoining Ronald Road, and their garden backed onto hers.

Dexter walked around and through the lean-to where the dog was kept, beside the Dunnes' home.

"Very quickly as Dexter walked in he went to walk past the dog," said Ms Davey. "The dog pushed Dexter to the floor. The dog then bit Dexter's neck more than once and there were bites to the back of Dexter's head."

She said Dexter, who was scared of dogs, bled "copiously" and once he was knocked down he could not get back up.

"Dexter did absolutely nothing to provoke the dog," she said. "There's no question of teasing or anything else."

She said Dunne came through from the kitchen when she heard screams and hit the dog repeatedly with a tea towel, which had "no effect" on the animal.

A neighbour who heard a commotion managed to grab the dog's collar, haul it away and restrain it until emergency services arrived. He said the dog had "lost its ferocity" by this point.

Dexter's sister alerted their mother Pamela, who went straight round, cuddled him, said "mummy's here" and attempted CPR.

He was airlifted to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where he died with his mother beside him.

A post-mortem examination found he suffered cardiac arrest after blood loss caused by dog bites.

Ms Davey said Dexter was a "well-loved little toddler" with a "sunny nature" who "loved his cuddles".

Ms Davey said American bulldogs are a "controversial" breed but are not banned.

Ruby was a rescue dog who was rarely walked, had shown no aggression towards humans in the Dunnes' home before but "sometimes didn't like other dogs" and had to be muzzled when walked.

The dog was usually kept indoors while children were playing in the garden.

Ms Davey said Ruby may have exhibited "prey behaviour", when a dog is not trained out of its wild instincts to attack, but suggestions the dog "barked or growled" before it attacked were inconsistent with this.

"Dexter could have been in too close proximity," she said. "Of course at the age of three Dexter could not read the negative signs and had no chance to get out of the way."

She said Dunne could not reasonably have foreseen the attack. The dog was destroyed as it exhibited "unpredictable behaviour" while in the custody of dog experts.

Steven Levy, mitigating for Dunne, said: "She's very sorry that having a family dog has brought about the sad loss of Dexter."

He said Dunne apologised, through him, to Dexter's family.

She is a single mother of three who was of previous good character, and she was remorseful, he added.

Ms Davey said the Neal family had installed a tall fence at the foot of their garden after the tragedy, and Dunne had moved away from the area.

In a statement issued shortly after his death, Dexter’s family said: “When Dexter was born our family became complete and we were happier than we could ever have imagined.

“Watching him grow into such a happy joyful child made every day a pleasure and we felt honoured to have him in our lives.

“Dexter made everyone smile with his beautiful face and cheeky grin. He was always polite and kind to everybody and all who met him fell in love with him.

“Our lives will never be the same without Dexter, he was the life and soul of our family. Our hearts have been broken and can never be fixed.

“We now have to learn to continue our lives without our cheeky little boy and remember the joy and happiness he brought us in the short time he was allowed to be with us.

“We love you baby boy always and forever.”